ComCil in Crisis

Row Over RAB Leads to Tears and Tyranny

Like an endless Greek tragedy, last week’s Comcil was yet again fueled by the RAB discussion. In an effort to give the paper tiger its claws back, the council for the first time did not talk about REB, but fully focused on the revival and restructuring of the excising advisory board instead.

The meeting began with a quick update by the Subcommittee on Community Learning Structures, which was formed on October 12th in reaction to a memo that President Lawry had presented in Adcil several weeks ago. In the memo he outlined his views on the tasks and position of several community organs, including Comcil and AdCil. The sub-committee has taken on the job to research the history of all organs and find out whether the President’s standpoints reflect the function they were originally endowed with. In its first update, the committee briefly mentioned how it divided its chores and what sources it will consult, including Antiochiana and former presidents of the college.

The subject quickly moved on to the ongoing RAB discussion, in an effort to find workable solutions for some of the problems that were addressed by the initiators of the proposal for an editorial-board. ComCil shot down a revised REB-proposal authored by the Vice president, the Dean of Faculty and the CM two weeks ago. Instead the members voted in favor of a motion to restructure the existing Record Advisory Board.

The revised proposal had failed to win over hearts in ComCil, because the adjustments to the original were too minimal and general questions concerning the accountability of the board prevailed with the members. REB was thus off the table for the first time since the debate about the need for an editorial board started four weeks ago, leaving room to fully concentrated on ideas to bring more representation in to RAB without taking away to much of the power dynamics in the advisory body.

Some members were asking where the Dean of students and the Vice president were in this discussion, as they had been shining with absence since the original REB proposal was tabled 3 weeks ago. In the mean time the proposal had been rejected and a motion had brought about a constructive discourse to enhance the quality of advice presented to the Community’s newspaper. So far, the veto of REB elicited no reaction from the president’s office. Following the “no news is good news? motto, ComCil stoically continued its move towards reforming RAB, by further elaborating the tabled motion with concrete suggestions to add two extra faculty seats to the existing board and introducing staggered two year appointments for non-student members. Brainstorming and discussion, however, quickly turned into tears and anger after Record co-editor Luke Brennan returned from the President’s office with an unexpected letter from the Dean of Faculty. In the letter, (found on the back of this issue) both Brennan and co-editor Foster Neill are addressed personally, in what Bloch calls “a final admonition that the Antioch Record not be a platform for menacing and threatening speech.” In the letter, Bloch calls into question the extent to which both editors are taking seriously the educational purposes of their co-op experience and their obligations as a paid employee of the College. Brennan, who read the letter to ComCil calmly, took a minute for himself after putting down the paper. Vice-president Jurasek, who had just walked in to the meeting about half way into the letter, took seat in the back to listen. After a ! clear moment of silence, it is CM Levi B. Cowperwhite who first speaks up, addressing Jurasek personally: “I’m pissed! Why wasn’t this taken to RAB? Why is this system so unimportant to you? We fight for what we love, we think it’s important. We talk about it all the time. It means nothing to you. This is what we work so hard for every day. That’s what makes leaders, Rick. What are you teaching us?” He pauses for a second, but doesn’t get the desired answer. “You are skipping every educational moment here. By writing this letter and not bringing this to RAB. What makes you think you’re so damn important? And I mean you Rick! I know this is also you.? The CM takes moment, before he continues: “We’re trying to make it better, we’re trying to safe this unsavable thing. You don’t care. We’re just a bunch of crazy kids to you. You don’t care that we’re loving and thoughtful kids who care for this. I have no respect for you any more. Respect is something you have to earn. And you did nothing today to earn that. “

For a moment the room went silent, nobody knowing what to say. Many stared down at the table in front of them in silence, glancing up briefly at the person sitting on the opposite side of the table. The chairwoman cried, and she wasn’t the only one. After this unexpected speech concluded a somber silence filled the room. A member of the Alumni Board that attended the meeting as a guest was clearly affected by what she had just seen.

It was Jurasek’s turn to break the silence. “Well, I’m slightly surprised. I thought I was going to come here to reform RAB. I can’t comment on what’s in the letter, since I didn’t write it, but I guess it isn’t necessarily widely unrelated. Does that sound understandable? There are often separate tracks to things. And they sometimes seem to contradict each other, they don’t necessarily. We still have to work on how we manage editorial policy. I want to work to reconfigure RAB, parallel to the letter, that is separate but not widely unrelated.

This eloquence seemed to strain the heads of the burned out ComCil members slightly. It had been an emotional meeting and everybody was eager to leave and get some fresh air. Cigarette consumption was again at its peak after the meeting was adjourned. Several parties at the meeting seemed to be going into a private second round afterwards, as issues were clearly not resolved for all. “ComCil does RAB? act 6: in a theatre near you, as this paper goes to print.

On a more positive note, the RAB debate has opened up a wider discussion and growing interest for the Advisory Board meetings. In a meeting of the board held in the Record office last Friday, RAB appeared vigorous and eager. Community and ComCil members joined the dialogue with editors, writers and members of RAB about last week’s paper; an encouraging sight after the gloomy ComCil departure the day before. To keep the progress going, all community members are encouraged to join this weeks RAB meeting, Friday at noon in the Antioch Inn.